WASHINGTON — The Senate will vote Thursday on whether to take up a domestic terrorism bill that the House passed after a gunman killed 10 people and wounded three others in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, earlier this month in what officials said was a racially motivated attack.
The vote comes after another mass shooting in which 19 children and two teachers were killed by a gunman in their Uvalde, Texas elementary school — the worst school shooting in a decade.
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act would require federal law enforcement agencies to regularly evaluate and take steps to address the threats posed by white supremacists and other violent domestic extremists. The House passed the legislation last week in a 222-203 largely party-line vote, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., joining all Democrats in support of the bill.
The Senate vote on taking up the bill, which Democrats are tying to the issue of guns, is expected to fail under broad Republican opposition, highlighting the challenges the sharply divided Congress faces in advancing measures related to gun control.
House passage of the bill came just days after a gunman shot 13 people, 11 of whom were Black, at a supermarket in Buffalo. An 18-year-old white male suspect has been indicted on first-degree murder charges and has pleaded not guilty.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Wednesday offered to allow votes on GOP sponsored gun amendments in a bid to garner support for the measure.
“If Republicans can vote with us to get on that bill, we can have a debate on considering common sense, strong gun safety amendments, hopefully with bipartisan support,” he said on the Senate floor.
In his remarks, Schumer said he was objecting to advancing a separate bill sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., that would create “a clearinghouse of information for the best school safety practices,” but instead would allow amendments like it to be voted on if Republicans agreed to advance to the domestic terrorism bill.
Schumer’s strategy is not likely to sway Republicans, who have said that the bill isn’t needed because federal agencies already have the authority to go after terrorists and expressed concerns the measure could be misused.
“But the problem we have now is we have people in American politics and American government who label anyone they don’t like as an extremist and that turns into a political weapon,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said.